Bangladesh reinstalls controversial statue after outcry

 
A statue denounced by religious hardliners as “un-Islamic” is pictured on the grounds of the Supreme Court in Dhaka after it was reinstalled on May 28, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Sunday (May 28) reinstalled a controversial statue deemed un-Islamic by religious hardliners on the grounds of the Supreme Court, just days after its removal had sparked angry protests by secular groups.

The sculpture of a blindfolded, sari-clad woman holding scales had been in place for less than six months when authorities removed it early Friday under pressure from hardliners, who said it was based on the Greek goddess of justice.

The statue of “lady justice” has ruffled feathers in the Muslim-majority nation, with hardliners staging massive protests in recent weeks against what they say is a Greek god unbefitting Bangladesh.

Its removal from the front plaza of Bangladesh’s top court triggered violent clashes between police and secular groups, who saw the move as further evidence of creeping Islamisation in the officially secular country.

But the sculpture’s creator Mrinal Haque, who had accused authorities of bowing to hardline groups, said he was asked to reinstall the statue at a different location on the court grounds.

“We have just placed the sculpture in front of the Annex Building of the Supreme Court,” Haque told AFP on Sunday.

“I wasn’t given any clarification but was only ordered to relocate it,” he said, adding the new location was at the back of the court where hardly anyone could see it.

Islamist groups held months of mass protests demanding the statue be destroyed and replaced with a Quran.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who leads the secular Awami League party, initially kept her distance from the row. But she broke her silence last month to describe the statue as “ridiculous” after inviting top Islamist leaders to her residence.

Mufti Faiz Ullah, a senior leader of hardline group Hefazat-e-Islam, threatened retaliation over the latest location.

“It should be removed immediately. Otherwise our movement will not stop,” he told AFP.

Analysts say Hasina’s stand on the statue was part of efforts to woo Islamists and conservative rural voters, before a general election expected next year.

Bangladesh has experienced increasing tensions between hardliners and secularists in recent years, with a number of atheist bloggers, religious minorities and foreigners murdered by extremists.

Source: AFP/nc

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About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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